Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Simple shirred waist pajama short tutorial

It's been really hot here recently.  Duh; it's August, but we had a little heat wave that made me revisit my supply of cute pajama shorts for hot weather.  I only have one pair that really fits well, so I decided to make some more.  I had a design idea for a cute and easy detail that would make them more interesting, so I thought I'd share!
How to make your own shirred waist pajama shorts:

  • Cut out your shorts using a pattern or, as I did, tracing your favorite pair if you know how.  I recommend the help of a pencil or fabric marker.  Make sure to leave an extra 1-2" at the bottom for the hem and 1-2" at the top for the top finish (also a hem in this method).
  • Sew your center front and center back seams, right sides together.  Press seams open.
  • Sew your side seams, press open.
  • Sew the inseams.
  • Turn under your hem (1/4-1/2", then under another 1/2-3/4") on the legs and at the top.
  • Try them on at this point to make sure they fit--of course, the elastic at the waistband will keep them on when they're done!
  • OK, now for the fancy part.  When I developed this idea I thought how cute it would be to use shirred elastic at the top of the shorts instead of a regular elastic waistband in a casing!  Imagine, a shirred waistband with a ruffle hem at the top!  Of course, I didn't have any elastic thread.  Oh.  So, change of plans, and now I can offer this tutorial with two options for elastic at the top!  If you're going to shirr: there's a great video tutorial from Grosgrain just recently, and of course there are tons of other tutorials out there.  It will look like this: (at the top of your shorts instead of an elastic casing.  I would recommend about 5 rows of shirring).
  • So please, if you have elastic thread or don't but aren't as impatient to finish your shorts as I was, please try the shirred waist!  It will be cute!
  • If you don't have elastic thread, grab some approximately 2" wide elastic and cut a piece 2-4" smaller than your hip measurement (figure out where you want your shorts to hit when trying the on without the elastic).  Hold the elastic around you and see how tight you want it.  They're pajamas, after all!  Sew right sides together.
  • The seam will be your center back.  Fold in half to find your center front (mark with a pin) and again to find the sides.
  • Now you'll do the same thing with your shorts.  The side seams are probably NOT the actual center sides of the shorts, since the back piece is probably a few inches wider than the front.  If you match your side elastic pins to your side seams, you may end up with lots of gathers in the back and very few in the front.  So, using your center back and center front seams on your shorts as markers, find your middle side points and pin the elastic to all four points.
  • Sew along the waistband, stretching out the elastic as you go.

That's it!  Enjoy your new shorts!
So easy and summery!


  1. wooww. so easy , so fashionable.. thanks for all the photos..byyeessss.

  2. Cute, and that fabric is perfect for it!

  3. very cute and quick!

  4. Great blog and wonderful, concise instructions!

  5. I've been wanting to make lounge pants, but have been way too intimidated to try without a pattern. I love the idea of a shirred waistband...I'll have to look into elastic thread...something I haven't seen in my few months of sewing.

  6. I've been wanting to make some pj shorts, and have been wanting to try some shirring - never thought of putting the two together! I've already got some elastic thread... I'll have to give this a try! : )

  7. The shirred waistband is simply brillant. Got me thinking of my stash. Thanks for that.

  8. This is a terrific tutorial. I have wanting to make a pair of these for awhile. Have to try making them on my new sewing machine. Thanks for sharing!


  9. Anonymous8/27/2010

    What kind of elastic are you using for those shorts, I've never seen elastic that looks like that is it easier to sew through than the regular kind?

  10. Thanks, everyone!
    A sewiknittoo, I used a waistband elastic--the tan bits are a little rubbery and meant to cling to a tucked-in shirt if you used it on a skirt or pants. It is thin enough that it's not hard to sew through.

  11. http://jesscarleton.blogspot.com/2012/07/jammie-shorts.html Thanks for the 'help' making my first pair of shorts. :D

  12. Does the elastic irritate your skin? I was just wondering if it would soften up enough in the wash to not be scratchy.

    1. Hm, nope, the elastic doesn't bug me, but there are lots of kinds of elastic out there and you could pick a softer one that you liked. Just check out the notions wall at your fabric store. I like to buy elastic by the yard rather than in the package, and that way you can feel it before you buy, too!

  13. You can buy lingerie elastic, it is much softer.

  14. Very cute! I just made my first shirred top last night and its s lot of fun! I actually like the look with the wide elastic band that you used! Thanks for the great idea! :-)



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